WASHINGTON – The Obama Administration has released $473 million in unused federal infrastructure earmarks for states to use on new projects, including $864,000 in Rhode Island.
The money comes from two earmark-funded Rhode Island road projects that were finished under budget and a third that is still in the planning stages. Unspent earmark money, even from finished projects, cannot be spent outside the scope of the original project approved by Congress without an executive order releasing the funds.
The largest portion of the Rhode Island money comes from a completed Hartford Avenue drainage improvement project in Johnston, which finished with a $514,000 balance, according to the R.I. Department of Transportation.
There was a $95,000 balance from a series of road resurfacing projects in the Blackstone Valley River valley area in several communities in the northern part of the state.
The unfinished project is the repair of Coles Bridge in East Providence, which received a $250,000 earmark, but is not scheduled to be started until 2014-2015.
RIDOT Spokesman Charles St. Martin said the state would choose a new project to spend the $864,000 on, but has not determined yet what that will be.
The Coles Bridge work will be done under the state’s regular highway maintenance program, St. Martin said.